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The Anatomy of Salvation: Robert Grosseteste on Christ’s Death, Passion, and Satisfaction

While Robert Grosseteste’s contribution to the 13th-century debate on the reason for the Incarnation is well known, his novel theory of what caused Christ’s death, and in particular the role which it plays in shaping his understanding of the atonement, has largely gone unexplored. This article first outlines Grosseteste’s belief that Christ died not as a result of the cross, but rather as a result of his divine will, focusing specifically upon on his scientific arguments showing that at the moment of his death Christ’s body was still ‘healthy and whole.’ The article then shows how Grosseteste makes his theory of Christ’s self-immolation central to his account of satisfaction. Particular attention is paid to the role of suffering in Grosseteste’s theory of the redemption and how he places charity and the Aristotelian notion of friendship at the heart of Christ’s satisfactory act, thereby prefiguring something of Aquinas’s key ideas.

Author: William Crozier